French St. Martin: Protest against Plan Local d’Urbanisme (PLU) yields resultsPOSTED: 10/23/15 1:30 PM
Arnell: “We’ll go back to the drawing board”
MARIGOT, St. Martin — The Second Vice President of the Collectivité Guillaume Arnell has agreed to revisit the Plan Local d’Urbanisme (PLU) after a meeting with the different social organizations and communities at the Hotel de la Collectivité on Thursday evening. During the meeting the organizations vowed to keep the blockades they erected in the morning to seal off Marigot and to prevent all vehicular traffic out of French St. Martin.
The roadblocks prevented civil servants and business owners to reach their places of work. Later in the day the protests against the controversial PLU zoning plan turned ugly with reports about thefts from stalled cars in French Quarter and a volatile situation in Grand Case.
Arnell who returned from Paris on Thursday afternoon had to be escorted to his office by the Gendarmes to attend the meeting. He was met with a huge crowd of protesters in front of the Hotel de la Collectivité.
Arnell first met with members of the Territorial Council for a briefing before meeting with the social organizations. During the meeting he outlined that he was willing to discuss all their grievances with regard to the PLU.
Among the demands was the removal of the PLU that will do “more harm than good” to the residents of French St. Martin. Arnel said that the responsibility of urban development is among the many portfolios and mentioned that when he took office in 2012, it was his intention to have it completed.
He mentioned that he had met with all the different district councils and they were informed of the entire plan. “It was since that time that the people had the opportunity to voice their opinion on the issue,” said Arnell.
Arnell told the gathering that there is nothing that he has done on purpose to harm the people of St.Martin. His comments were met with serious rebuttal from the audience who mentioned that they have appreciated what he has done in the past and he should not brag or boast about his accomplishments. The protesters said he would not get any sympathy because on this last portfolio he has failed.
The protesters demanded an emergency meeting of the Territorial Council to annul all the decisions that were taken about the PLU. They also asked to bring all discussions about the PLU to the people and to start the process legally.
Arnell later told SOS radio that the Collectivité will go back to the drawing board, he also called on citizens to come out in larger numbers to public meetings “to know what is going on.”
Asked about the unrest that erupted in Grand Case over several unresolved issues, Arnell said that he is prepared to have a discussion about these topics “at the earliest convenience.”